Chelsea’s Antonio Conte was encouraged with the way his team rediscovered their swagger ahead of the visit of Barcelona during their 4-0 defeat of Hull.
Their victory, following Monday’s over West Brom with a 3-0 scoreline, represented their second in the space of five days and came after successive losses to Bournemouth and Watford after which the manager’s position was questioned.
That they scored each of their four goals – twice through Willian and then Pedro and Olivier Giroud – by half-time demonstrated they remain capable of reaching the level that led them to last season’s Premier League title, and before a period that could define their campaign.
After Barca on Tuesday they face fixtures against Manchester United and Manchester City and, having revealed his fringe players had given him a selection headache for the visit of the LaLiga leaders, the 48-year-old Conte said: “The last two wins were very important for us and our confidence.
“To win in the league, and then the FA Cup, was very important for our confidence, and to prepare in the right way for Barcelona.
“To play against Barcelona is a great challenge for us. This type of game must give us great enthusiasm. We must be excited to play, especially against this team.
“I consider Barcelona one of the best teams in the world. You have to try and compete with them at this level. It won’t be easy, for sure, but we must have the right confidence and then we’ll see what happens.
“I’m very happy. Before an important game I go to my house with many doubts in my mind.
“‘Which is the best starting XI to start the game against Barcelona?’ But it’s right to be so. We must take the right time to make the best decision to pick the best XI to start that game.”